Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston struck a determinedly hopeful tone after his long-awaited meeting with Pope Francis to discuss the growing sexual abuse crisis in the United States.
“I myself am filled with hope,” he said, “but I also realize all these things might take purpose and time.” The cardinal spoke following a noon meeting Sept. 13 at the Vatican. “The Holy Father is the important figure for us in this,” DiNardo said. “He sees the problem all over the Church and throughout the world.”
While the cardinal did not want to discuss the specifics of the private meeting beyond a statement released by the U.S. bishops, he did describe the encounter as “very, very fruitful.”
“It was lengthy, and we shared a lot of thoughts and ideas together,” the cardinal told Catholic News Service, “so I found the meeting very good from that point of view. The pope is well informed,” the cardinal said, “and he’s also very, very attentive to what has happened to abuse victims in the Church in the United States.”
The cardinal arrived in Rome Sept. 12 following a meeting with the U.S. bishops’ Administrative Committee. DiNardo described the Administrative Committee meeting as “sober.”
“I thought there was a good deal of unity of the bishops on where we need to go” and on the fact that “we have to move into action” in terms of addressing the abuse crisis, he said. The cardinal said the bishops must be “united in purpose on solutions.”
DiNardo originally announced that he was requesting a meeting with Francis following the release of the Pennsylvania grand jury report on sexual abuse cases in six Pennsylvania dioceses.
He said the USCCB Executive Committee had established three goals: “An investigation into the questions surrounding Archbishop McCarrick; an opening of new and confidential channels for reporting complaints against bishops; and advocacy for more effective resolution of future complaints.”
When asked about the three priorities after the meeting with the pope, the cardinal said: “I think we can make movement on those things. I think we have to do it step by step.”
Since Aug. 1 DiNardo has issued five statements responding to various aspects of the sexual abuse crisis and has called for greater transparency and accountability in the Church, particularly on the part of the bishops.
When asked what role there could be for Catholic media, he said they “have to tell the truth in a way that is very balanced.” Acknowledging the anger and even “rage” among some commentators, he said the task of Catholic media is “speaking the truth, but never forgetting the role of charity.”
When asked where he finds hope during the current wave of scandals and controversy, he said, “Our trust is in the Lord.”